Journal Article

An efficient method for transient gene expression in monocots applied to modify the <i>Brachypodium distachyon</i> cell wall

Oksana Fursova, Gennady Pogorelko and Olga A. Zabotina

in Annals of Botany

Published on behalf of The Annals of Botany Company

Volume 110, issue 1, pages 47-56
Published in print July 2012 | ISSN: 0305-7364
Published online May 2012 | e-ISSN: 1095-8290 | DOI:
An efficient method for transient gene expression in monocots applied to modify the Brachypodium distachyon cell wall

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  • Ecology and Conservation
  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Plant Sciences and Forestry


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Agrobacterium-mediated transformation is widely used to produce insertions into plant genomes. There are a number of well-developed Agrobacterium-mediated transformation methods for dicotyledonous plants, but there are few for monocotyledonous plants.


Three hydrolase genes were transiently expressed in Brachypodium distachyon plants using specially designed vectors that express the gene product of interest and target it to the plant cell wall. Expression of functional hydrolases in genotyped plants was confirmed using western blotting, activity assays, cell wall compositional analysis and digestibility tests.

Key Results

An efficient, new, Agrobacterium-mediated approach was developed for transient gene expression in the grass B. distachyon, using co-cultivation of mature seeds with bacterial cells. This method allows transformed tissues to be obtained rapidly, within 3–4 weeks after co-cultivation. Also, the plants carried transgenic tissue and maintained transgenic protein expression throughout plant maturation. The efficiency of transformation was estimated at around 5 % of initially co-cultivated seeds. Application of this approach to express three Aspergillus nidulans hydrolases in the Brachypodium cell wall successfully confirmed its utility and resulted in the expected expression of active microbial proteins and alterations of cell wall composition. Cell wall modifications caused by expression of A. nidulans α-arabinofuranosidase and α-galactosidase increased the biodegradability of plant biomass.


This newly developed approach is a quick and efficient technique for expressing genes of interest in Brachypodium plants, which express the gene product throughout development. In the future, this could be used for broad functional genomics studies of monocots and for biotechnological applications, such as plant biomass modification for biofuel production.

Keywords: Transient expression; Agrobacterium; Brachypodium distachyon; hydrolases; plant cell wall; biodegradability

Journal Article.  6769 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Ecology and Conservation ; Evolutionary Biology ; Plant Sciences and Forestry

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